- - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ISLAMABAD — An official medical review of a Pakistani Christian girl accused of desecrating the Koran has determined that the girl is a minor, a lawyer for the girl said Tuesday.

The finding, which means the girl will be tried in the juvenile court system, could possibly defuse what has been a highly contentious case in Pakistan, where blasphemy can be punished with life in prison or even death.

The accusations against the girl have inflamed religious tensions in Pakistan, and sparked a mass exodus of Christians from the girl’s neighborhood who feared retribution from their Muslim neighbors.

About 300 of the Christians who set up camp in a field outside the capital were evicted from the site Tuesday, and their makeshift church was burned down.

The attorney, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, said a report by a medical board investigating the age and mental state of the girl determined she is 14 years old. He also said the board determined her mental state does not correspond to her age.

It was not clear whether that meant she is mentally impaired. Some Pakistani media reports have said the girl has Down syndrome.


Police detained in shooting of U.S. agents

MEXICO CITY — A judge has ruled that 12 police officers accused of opening fire on a U.S. Embassy vehicle and wounding two Embassy employees should remain in detention in an incident that has roiled U.S.-Mexican relations and drawn fresh attention to serious problems inside Mexico’s premier law-enforcement agency.

Mexican and U.S. officials have offered sketchy official accounts of the shooting that do not address the possible reason why Mexican federal police opened fire Friday on an armored sport-utility vehicle with diplomatic license plates carrying a Mexican navy captain and two employees of the country’s closest ally.

The federal police officers were ordered detained under a form of house arrest for 40 days on suspicion of abusing their authority. That charge can entail both criminal wrongdoing and extreme negligence.

That leaves open the possibility of both a deliberate attack on the Americans by corrupt officers and a gross error by well-intentioned but trigger-happy police operating in a dangerous area.

Experts said that either scenario is cause for pessimism about the federal police, which has long been touted as the best hope for Mexico’s gaining control of its struggle with organized crime.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will hold talks in China and become the first top U.S diplomat to visit East Timor and a Pacific Island summit on an 11-day Asia trip, officials said Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton’s latest trip comes as the U.S. puts a greater focus on Asia, which has served as a key driver of economic growth and where a rising China has faced growing friction with its neighbors.

She will leave Thursday for the Cook Islands to take part in the Pacific Islands Forum, leading the highest-level U.S. delegation to the 41-year-old summit at a time that China has been increasingly active in the South Pacific.

She will head Sept. 3 to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, which the Obama administration initially eyed as a growing U.S. partner due to its size and democratic values.

She will hold talks Sept. 4 to 5 in Beijing, which comes amid both friction and cautious cooperation between the world’s two largest economies on issues from trade to North Korea to Syria.

Already the most-traveled secretary of state in U.S. history, Mrs. Clinton on Sept. 6 will become the highest-ranking U.S official to visit East Timor, an impoverished half-island that became independent from Indonesia in 2002.

She also will visit Brunei — one of several nations with territorial disputes with China — and take part in the Sept. 8 to 9 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the Russian port of Vladivostok.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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